PETALING JAYA: Midfielder Mohamed Fadzli Shaari is the only notable figure in the Malaysian Under-21 football training squad for a youth international tournament against Brazil, Portugal and South Korea, which will be played at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil from March 12-16.
Fadzli, who had a short six-month professional stint with German Third Division club SV Wehen in 2000 and features for Pahang in the M-League, is expected to be the “livewire” of the Malaysian team, comprising players who play in the President 's Cup.
Coach K. Rajagopal said that except for Fadzli, the others in the team were short on international experience and they would find the going tough playing against world-class opponents.
“We have players who have hardly featured for their state’s senior sides while the oppositions have professionals who are already playing abroad and in first teams. There will certainly be a vast difference in standard and the challenge for our boys is to play to the best of their ability,” said Rajagopal.
There are six newcomers to the Under-21 squad, who played in an invitational tournament in Brunei last year. They are goalkeeper Mohamed Helmi Elisa Alias; defender Mohamed Rahman Zabol; strikers Nik Zul Aziz Nawawi and Mohamed Affandi Zam Zam; and midfielders Mohamed Arman Zahari Johan and Mohamed Saiful Adli Mohamed.
Time is also not on Rajagopal's side. The boys will report for centralised training at the Wisma FAM in Kelana Jaya on Tuesday with the tournament barely a month away.
“There are so many aspects to work on with the boys. They have not been playing and it will be tough to work on their fitness, tactical and technical training in such a short time,” said Rajagopal, who will be assisted by Mohamed Fauzi Mukhlas.
The FA of Malaysia's (FAM) youth technical director, Jorvan Vieira, said that Rajagopal's team would form the core of the national team for the 2005 SEA Games.
THE TRAINING SQUAD
Goalkeepers: Sani Anuar Kamsani (Sel), Mohamed Al-Hafiz Hamzah, Mohamed Helmi Eliza Alias (Ked).
Defenders: K. Lingam (Mal), Fakharuddin Shah (Pah), Mat Saiful Mohamed (Pen), Mohamed Rahman Zabol, Mohamed Fairul Izwan Zaini (Nse), M. Ravinthiran (Prk).
Midfielders: Mohamed Fadzli Shaari (Pah), Mohamed Firdaus Mokhtar, Mohamed Ghazali Zamil, Azwira Zainal, Mohamed Saiful Adli Mohamed (Nse), Mohamed Khairol Naim, R. Surenthiran, Harizal Izwan (Prk), Mohamed Firdaus Daud (Ked), Mohamed Norisham Hassan, Tengku Elias Tengku Ibrahim (Ter), Mohamed Arman Zahari Johan (Kel).
Forwards: Nik Zul Aziz Nawawi (Ter), Mohamed Safee Sali (Kul), Mohamed Affandi Zam Zam (Joh), Fairus Montana Zainal Abidin (Sel).